Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Happened to the girl from Los Angeles?

It's been a long time since I last wrote a post. I have thought about writing everyday. But I was busy living and consciously decided to let myself experience my feelings without judgment or comment.

I am now ready to comment.

We started spring break two weeks ago Friday. My husband and I picked up our sons from school, piled their book bags into our car and headed for Los Angeles. It was a long drive filled with traffic and The Great Gatsby. Thank God for Jay Gatsby. His story, told to me on tape, got me all the way to LA without thinking about the chaos I was about to step into. And I needed to think about Jay as I tried to fall asleep each night in a city where I once lived and that I barely recognized anymore.

Long analytical papers about Iran/US relations, a difficult pre-calculous test, and a paper for environmental science behind him, Kyle was exhausted. He fell fast asleep until our car hit Sunset Boulevard.

And then we never slept again. It began with a day of sparkling orange and green entertainment. Nickelodeon had arrived in LA and all the stars came out. Will and I walked the "orange" carpet by mistake right behind the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber. I was stunned that everything looked so very different to me. I once felt comfortable walking the carpet. Comfortable with agents and managers. Comfortable being in the spot light or even one of the many producers for shows like Extra and E! and CNN's Showbiz! Will took it all in stride. But I was surprised how glossy everything looked. Nothing seemed real to me anymore in this land I used to call home. But I enjoyed the slime and little kids clutching their autograph books looking for the next celebrity's signature. I loved the kids and remembered why I loved working for Nickelodeon. It is a huge, impressive organization now but it still has a soul. I am happy to know its soul.

Then parties and slime and a dinner with Kyle's girlfriend and her family who were also visiting LA. I loved the night. I felt I belonged here with these people that were real and thoughtful.

But the night floated into the next day and I found myself in Malibu. We ate lunch at the Malibu Mart and the kids played ping pong as I wondered into the glamorous stores. Everyone donned a smile and a perfect body. We bought over-priced T shirts and laughed with friends that I have known forever.

We rushed back to Brentwood for a trendy Japanese dinner before Kyle and I dropped off Tom and Will at LAX. We were on our own now. In my land. In LA land. It was time for Kyle's college tour and his indoctrination into Tinsel Town.

If I don't ever visit another University I will be happy. Beautiful campuses, robust student bodies, admission directors explaining that indeed they take the top ten percent of the senior classes.

Kyle turned to me, "What happens to the other 90%?" He had a good question. We laughed and walked and liked all the same things. I was with my 16-year-old and I was loving every minute of it.

He got himself invited to see Paul McCartney at the Hollywood Bowl. In a box seat no less. He was truly now part of the LA scene. He had arrived and I was not sure how I felt about it. I never felt like LA corrupted me but I could see how easily one could become one of "them," the pretty people. The movers and the shakers. The ones that shake more and move less.

We visited campuses and dined at LA's trendiest restaurants. We visited with old friends from elementary school, from high school, from college, from my life in New York.

Finally we found ourselves in Santa Barbara. One last campus. One last tour. One last admissions counselor.

The fun and the stress pulsed in are veins. I was acutely aware that Kyle and I were headed towards our inevitable separation. But I dared not think about it. I pushed it out of my head. Instead I filled my brain with other things to worry about. Lots of things. You name it and I worried about it. I never seem to be too exhausted not to worry.

Will he get into one of the colleges he likes? At what price? What physical price? How do I support him without becoming part of the problem?

Oh, and then there are endless other worries. Worries I am too afraid to share.

I found myself at home again and not at all back to the routine. Kyle has another week off and then Will will begin his spring break. I used to love the endless hours of summer holidays, Christmas vacation, spring break but this year it all seems to be pushing me forward, shoving me into the next phase of life. I am teetering on craving the new time and fighting against it with every fiber of my being.

My husband welcomes me everyday with open arms. He is ready for our life to begin. I am afraid of its sudden and eventual ending. I must dig deep within and with the wisdom of my age, face the life ahead with vigor and vitality. I must find the teenager in me, again. The explorer. The adventurer. The player.

She is there. I know she is. I see her every so often. I love her. I want to see her more. I'm sure my husband does too.


  1. The trip sounds like an amazing whirlwind!
    It is quite strange to think of the next part of the rest of our lives. With 2 of my 3 gone I feel in the thick of it. It's challenging, exciting and scary all at once.
    I look forward to what amazing things we'll do next!
    Good to see you back.

  2. Hi Terry - I've missed you and have been thinking of you on your trip, but I totally understand and respect your decision to step away from writing about life in order to live more of it.

    I look forward to hearing more about this segment of your journey.

  3. Terry, I have missed you. I can't believe you were at the Kid's Choice Awards! What fun that for your kids it's not just something out of reach on TV.

    I know it's a hard time (and I'm sure if I get my son through high school I'll feel that way too) but this is what all that work was for! You've done such a good job raising an incredible kid who's about to go to college. It's a sad time but also a proud time.

  4. I'm not sure how one prepares for the inevitable. The preparation take away the present moment joy. That's why revelling in what's happening now with life can be so very satisfying. Enjoy the discomfort.


  5. What a trip you had! I'm a little envious of all the quality time you spent with your eldest son. I have some of the same concerns that you do about college and letting go. I'm trying my best to let my son grow into the person he should be without imposing any of my personal limitations on him. Oh gosh, I wish we could sit down and discuss this over coffee. We'll both survive and I'm could see a glimmer of that LA girl in your post.

  6. SO good to have you back. So good to hear about your adventures. I was sure you were having fun (!) but missed your posts just the same.

    We had a trip down to NYC yesterday with just our two youngest boys. We took our bikes and rode one end of Central Park to the other (BIG hills!) and had a ball. But it didn't mean I wasn't missing my older two.

    One was in Cape Cod with a few close friends. The other chose to stay home. But this will be our new life, in 18 months, when they both are off to college.

    It will take a lot to stop missing them, I fear. We are a family of six. Four just seems so few. It's all relative I guess.

    Good to have you back....


  7. Lovely description of the visit to your homeland. I don't suppose you could sell Kyle on a gap year? He could always get into a school, accept the offer, then politely defer for just one year. We are loving the fact that Ian is home with us, with no stress or pressure, for this lovely year. Plus he makes an excellent yardman and chauffeur.
    BTW, he and his brother both just finished reading The Great Gatsby and we have had some family book discussions about it.
    Like Jay, you will re-invent yourself when the boys no longer live at home.

  8. "I am teetering on craving the new time and fighting against it with every fiber of my being." Yes! I feel this way with every new stage my children go through. I'm hoping you rediscover your inner adventurer soon.